Beyoncé to remove ‘harmful’ ableist slur from new song amid criticism
Beyoncé has confirmed that she will remove an ableist slur from new song “Heated”, just weeks after Lizzo removed the same word from her song “Grrrls”.
The song, which appears on Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance, contains an offensive slur which activists have long criticised in its pejorative use mocking disabled people.
While some say the slur is considered less offensive in the United States, where it is often used to mean “freaking out”, many disability activists have criticised Beyoncé for including it in her latest track.
On Monday (1 August), representatives for Beyoncé confirmed to Insider that the lyric will be changed.
“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” a statement said.
Hannah Diviney, a journalist with cerebral palsy, wrote in a Guardian that the singer being a talented artist “doesn’t excuse her use of ableist language.”
“It doesn’t excuse the fact that the teams of people involved in making this album somehow missed all the noise the disabled community made only six weeks ago when Lizzo did the same thing,” she wrote in the article, published before Beyoncé’s team confirmed the lyric would be removed.
“It doesn’t explain how millions of people have already heard this album and yet aren’t raising the issue, except to make fun of or degrade the disabled community.”
— FOLLOW @YITTY (@lizzo) June 13, 2022
In June, musical icon Lizzo re-released her song “Grrrls” after calls from the disabled community to remove the same slur, stating that the offence was “unintentional”, and that as a plus-size, Black American woman, she understands the power “hurtful words” have.
She said in a statement: “It’s been brought to my attention that there’s a harmful word in my new song ‘GRRRLS’. Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language.
“As a fat, Black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).
“As an influential artist, I’m dedicated to being a part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”
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Lizzo was praised for removing the word so quickly, with a Twitter user describing the move as “very graceful”.
“This [Lizzo’s song] was high profile enough that the same mistake shouldn’t have happened again,” they added.
“So sick of non-disabled artists not recognising harm in their words.”
While “Heated” has attracted controversy, Beyoncé has received overwhelmingly glowing reviews for Renaissance, particularly from within the LGBTQ+ community.
The album, the first ‘act’ of a trilogy, is dedicated to her late, gay uncle, and includes several tributes to queer and trans artists.